Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

We Evolved to Run—But We’re Doing It All Wrong

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It’s been a while since I ran, but when I did, I favored LSD: long, slow distance. As noted, it becomes a meditative thing, particularly if you are lucky enough to be able to run in natural surroundings. One note: I started getting knee pain, with my knee “grabbing” painfully at random times, particularly when going up steps. I read through the various running magazines I was getting at the time, and found an article from a doctor who said that knee pain is generally from improper foot strike: if the foot strikes crookedly, it puts stress on the knees (and in fact, as I learned, it can go on up the body to affect hips and back). I knew I had flat feet (fallen arches), so I made an appointment with a podiatrist.

As it happened, I had an appointment with my regular GP the morning before my afternoon appointment with the podiatrist. I don’t recall the reason, but after the discussion and recommendations of why I came, he asked how things were going in general, and I mentioned I had an appointment later with a podiatrist for the knee pain. He went into alert mode when I said “podiatrist” and immediately sought to show that a real MD was the proper resource. He had me put my leg up on the table. He felt my knee for a while, pressing here and there, and then gave me his official MD advice: “Stop running.”

I decided to see the podiatrist anyway, and he explained quite cogently how flat arches made one’s foot strike obliquely and that it indeed did stress the knees. He gave me prescription orthotics that raised my arches, and the knee pain went away.

Simon Worrall writes in National Geographic:

These days, running seems to have little to do with survival—it’s all about sport watches and burning calories.

But for our remote ancestors, the ability to run over long distances in pursuit of prey, such as ostrich or antelope, gave us an evolutionary edge—as well as an Achilles tendon ideal for going the distance. (Related: “Humans Were Born to Run, Fossil Study Suggests.”)

In his new book, Footnotes: How Running Makes Us Human, University of Kent researcher Vybarr Cregan-Reid reminds us of this often forgotten history. To him, running is ultimately about freedom and leaving the gadgets behind to connect with nature (he calls treadmills the “junk food of exercise.”)

On the phone from London, the author told National Geographic how he was inspired by his Irish uncle, who ran in the Olympics, and why he believes running barefoot is more natural—and less likely to result in injury.

You definitely win the prize for the most unusual name we have had on Book Talk. Tell us a bit about yourself—and how you got into running.

Both my parents are Irish and Vybarr is derived from an Irish name, Finbar. But it’s a family mystery as to why I’m called Vybarr. There are quite a few stories as to where the name came from but none of them add up.

I have been running on and off since my early 20s, but only properly got into it about 10-15 years ago. I’m now nearly 50. There is running in my family. My uncle on my mother’s side was called Jim Cregan. He thought he couldn’t run under that name if he ran for England instead of Ireland, so he ran for Great Britain under the name of Jim Hogan. He came from 1930s rural Ireland, and my grandparents thought he was mad for being so into running. But he ran and ran, most of the time barefoot. He ran for Ireland and later for Great Britain in two Olympics. He also won a gold at the European championships in 1966.

I have to confess: I am someone who loves sports of all kinds, but I heartily dislike running. Convert me!

The first thing I’d say is, you’re probably not doing it right. Most people dislike running because they have memories of things like running for a bus. That kind of running is usually deeply unpleasant, almost vomit-inducing. Most beginners give up when they get injured because they’ve done too much, too soon. Most of the benefits from running derive from going very slowly.

I’m also suspicious of it being a sport. It doesn’t have to be practiced as one. It’s something innate to who we are as a species. It’s a means of getting in touch with the environment and our own thoughts. It’s also a way of releasing some of those body-made endorphins, almost like a “legal high,” that is actually good for us.

You write, “we are born to run.” Explain the role of running in our evolution—and how it is even reflected in our anatomy. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 August 2017 at 10:35 am

Easing into morning exercise

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I have been excessively sedentary, so as part of the overall Covey program, I’m instituting regular exercise. I certainly shall be focusing on progress rather than performance, because (as I noted this morning) performance right now is pretty dismal. By a happy coincidence, the NY Times this morning feature a 9-minute morning exercise program: The 9-Minute Strength Workout.

It uses 1-minute intervals, and for those this 1-minute repeating timer is useful.

So far, so good.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 April 2017 at 11:08 am

Posted in Daily life, Fitness, Health

Very interesting and simple exercise regimen using body weight

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Oliver Lee Bateman points out this sensible exercise program in Motherboard. He writes:

. . . [O]n reddit’s r/bodyweightfitness, users have joined forces to answer a question being asked by millions of people making their New Year’s exercise resolutions: What is the perfect workout?

The result is an extremely convenient, bodyweight-oriented solution to a mystery that has sold billions of dollars of fitness books, gym memberships, and equipment. Their program, as outlined in this video by YouTube fitness celebrity (and leading r/bodyweightfitness poster) Antranik, consists of three hour-long workouts that utilize simple movements such as planks, l-sits, handstands, and pull-ups—time-tested exercises that trainees were doing in 19th-century gymnasiums. The regimen is intended to be progressive, meaning that trainees will hold these poses for longer amounts of time or perform additional repetitions as they develop greater strength and flexibility.

First-time posters on r/bodyweightfitness typically describe themselves as out of shape and lacking access to a gym or information about fitness and nutrition. For individuals with such limited means and low starting skill levels, the workout would be effective, Equinox trainer Jason Strong told Motherboard. “I watched Antranik’s video and I must say I am impressed,” he said. “The workout is simple but thoroughly thought out. The progressions and regressions are very important. The breakdown of the workout is smart and follows traditional procedures–warm-up, skill movements, strength–and I love the prerequisite to move on to pull-ups. Now, if this is all you ever did, it is lacking rotational movements and stretching, but I do like it.”

Anthony Roberts, a fitness journalist and trainer, agreed with Strong’s assessment but cautioned that the absence of weight training from the workout would slow and eventually limit a trainee’s ability to continue developing total-body strength.

“Bodyweight or gymnastics movements will get you better at those types of movements,” he told Motherboard. “The disadvantage is . . .

Watch this video to get an idea of the progression. It makes sense to me.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 January 2017 at 9:44 am

Posted in Fitness, Video

Why the 10,000 steps

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Victor M., a reader of the blog, passes along an interesting post from MyFitnessPal.com:

It takes 28 steps to walk from your bedroom to your refrigerator and 317 to get to work. If you manage to rack up even a couple thousand steps between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., it’s a pretty good day. Time to hit the gym if you’re going to get 10,000 steps, appease your fitness tracker and edge out your friends on the step-count leaderboard.

But do you really need to hit 10,000 steps per day for better health? Short answer: Not really.

What You Need to Know About the 10,000-Step Recommendation

Pedometers sold in Japan in the 1960s were marketed with the name “manpo-kei,” which means “10,000 steps meter,” according to a Sports Medicine review. Just like that, the number stuck.

And while the original 10,000-step recommendation was anything but scientific, overall, it holds up pretty well in helping the general population improve their health, says Daniel Neides, medical director of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. On average, healthy adults take between 4,000–18,000 steps per day, according to a review from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. And in a 2015 PLOS ONE study, people who increased the number of daily steps from 1,000 to 10,000 cut their risk of death by 46%.

“What we know is that 10,000 steps equates to about 4–5 miles, or an hour to an hour and 15 minutes of brisk walking,” Neides says. “That’s about the midway point of what we are looking for from people in terms of physical activity.” To prevent cardiovascular disease, the sweet spot is 20 minutes–2 hours of aerobic exercise per day, says Neides, noting that heart disease, the number 1 cause of death in the U.S., kills more people than all forms of cancer combined.

That’s why he’s way more concerned with minutes than steps. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t have a step recommendation; instead it recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate exercise like brisk walking or 75 minutes of vigorous activity like running per week. For anyone counting, that works out to anywhere from 3,500–8,000 steps per day. And, no matter how much aerobic activity you get, the CDC still recommends getting at least two hours of strength exercise per week. That raises an important point: Dumbbells lifted don’t count toward your step count, but they make huge improvements to your overall health, Neides says. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 June 2016 at 3:40 pm

Posted in Business, Fitness

How the body fights back against weight loss

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It’s a multi-pronged counterattack: first, the body cuts back on the amount of leptin and other hormones that trigger satiety, which means you feel hungry more. (I find that a low-carb, high-fat help diet helps here, since digesting fat takes time and produces more satiety per calorie.)

And it also drops your metabolism rate, so that you burn fewer calories, so that a diet that would stabilize your weight previously now adds the pounds. One just has to grow accustomed to smaller plates and smaller portions. I do find that a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack helps both with satiety and with weight loss. I eat 1/2 apple at each snack, so a total of an apple a day.

Detailed information in this NY Times article, and well worth reading if you’ve ever fought the battle of the pounds. I realize now that I probably must track my food intake permanently because if I simply go on what I feel, my body will deceive me back to slow and steady weight gain.

Right now I’m just about to dip below 200 lbs (again).

UPDATE: I should add that those discussed in the NY Times article had lost a dramatic amount of weight quite quickly. I’m losing weight much more moderately, around 5 lbs/month. It may well be that gradual loss does not trigger the kind of pushback that rapid loss does.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 May 2016 at 9:40 am

One minute a day of strenuous exercise has same health and fitness benefit as 45 minutes of moderate exercise

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Very interesting article in the NY Times by Gretchen Reynolds. The core:

. . . One group was asked to change nothing about their current, virtually nonexistent exercise routines; they would be the controls.

A second group began a typical endurance-workout routine, consisting of riding at a moderate pace on a stationary bicycle at the lab for 45 minutes, with a two-minute warm-up and three-minute cool down.

The final group was assigned to interval training, using the most abbreviated workout yet to have shown benefits. Specifically, the volunteers warmed up for two minutes on stationary bicycles, then pedaled as hard as possible for 20 seconds; rode at a very slow pace for two minutes, sprinted all-out again for 20 seconds; recovered with slow riding for another two minutes; pedaled all-out for a final 20 seconds; then cooled down for three minutes. The entire workout lasted 10 minutes, with only one minute of that time being strenuous.

Both groups of exercising volunteers completed three sessions each week for 12 weeks, a period of time that is about twice as long as in most past studies of interval training.

By the end of the study, published in PLOS One, the endurance group had ridden for 27 hours, while the interval group had ridden for six hours, with only 36 minutes of that time being strenuous.

But when the scientists retested the men’s aerobic fitness, muscles and blood-sugar control now, they found that the exercisers showed virtually identical gains, whether they had completed the long endurance workouts or the short, grueling intervals. In both groups, endurance had increased by nearly 20 percent, insulin resistance likewise had improved significantly, and there were significant increases in the number and function of certain microscopic structures in the men’s muscles that are related to energy production and oxygen consumption.

There were no changes in health or fitness evident in the control group. . .

The research was done by scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 April 2016 at 4:18 pm

Health/diet notes

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It turns out that the pain in my right hip is due not to bursitis, the doctor’s first suspicion, but sciatica, from inflammation in the sciatic nerve. The tip-off is that the pain sometimes goes down my leg into the outside muscle of my calf. Ice packs, Advil, and stretching exercises should help.

A dietary note. For several days this week I watched my caloric intake like a hawk, keeping it around 1050 calories/day and certainly below 1100 cal/day. And yet my weight stayed the same or even went up a little.

I was complaining about this, and The Wife reminded me in my last serious weight-loss effort I had hit a similar plateau but when I followed the dietician’s advice and had a small piece of fruit (e.g., half an apple or a plum) as a mid-morning snack and another similar mid-afternoon snack, my weight loss resumed. It was very strange and quite noticeable: if I kept calories on track and stopped the mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack, my weight loss stopped; if I resumed the snacks, my weight loss resumed.

So this morning I had half an apple, and this afternoon I’ll have some berries.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 April 2016 at 12:12 pm

Posted in Fitness, Food, Medical

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